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Unsolved Murders

Ivan Malenko

Age: 45

Sex: male

Date: 18 Nov 1955

Place: Lagness, Bognor Regis, West Sussex

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Ivan Malenko was found dead in a deep ditch with his motorcycle on 18 November 1955. He had gone missing three months earlier on 26 July 1955.

When he was found it was considered that he and his damaged motorcycle, which had 'L' plates on it, had been in the ditch for some months. He was found by a roadman that lived in Chalcroft Lane in North Bersted, about 100 yards east of Trafalgar Cottage in a ditch on the south side of the road partially covered with brambles.

A pathologist that that examined his body said that he found no bone fractures or signs of violence about his body.

Ivan Malenko was a White Russian builders labourer and had rented a flat in Elmwood Road in Chiswick. His landlord said that Ivan Malenko suffered from stomach trouble and that he last saw Ivan Malenko when he left for Brighton on his motorcycle on 26 July 1955.

His landlord later identified items of Ivan Malenko's clothing, his spectacles and his keys which were found with his body as his.

It was submitted at the inquest that Ivan Malenko was a rather bad motorcyclist and noted that he had had two accidents in one year.

The police suggested that as Ivan Malenko had disappeared in the summer, late July, that the undergrowth, with its summer foliage, had hidden him and his motorcycle from passers-by. It was noted that the ditch at that point was deep and that in many places it was practically concealed by long grass and bushes. It was said that anything lying in the ditch would have almost certainly been hidden from the view of passing motorists, but that how his body lay for so long undetected by passing cyclists and pedestrians remained a mystery. It was further noted that the place where his body was found, between The Royal Oak in Lagness and the Duck Pond at Aldwick, would have been heavy in the summer with traffic, and although it was used less frequently by pedestrians, there were people that regularly walked along it to exercise their dogs.

When the County Council's Divisional Surveyor was asked why Ivan Malenko's body was not found by any roadmen earlier, the surveyor said that it was possible that no roadmen had been employed there since July or early August. However, he added, 'In any case, although our roadmen are responsible for cutting the grass along the verges, they are not responsible for the hedges and ditches'. The surveyor added that the system of employing 'lengthmen', who used to each be responsible for a certain stretch of road on which they were employed all the time, had been abolished and that the roadmen had since worked in gangs and that after a gang had been working on a stretch of road, a period of three months might easily elapse before they were employed there again.

It was noted that the road had a number of sharp bends, but that it was not known whether Ivan Malenko might have over-shot a bend at high speed and crashed into the ditch, or whether he had been involved in an accident with another vehicle.

When the Coroner summed up he said that Ivan Malenko might have had a gastric attack or failed to negotiate the corner whilst going too fast and ridden into the ditch and an open verdict was returned.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Bognor Regis Observer - Friday 02 December 1955

see Bognor Regis Observer - Friday 25 November 1955